Curtains – Looking back at Takahashi Yukihiro

Before I heard the news, I was planning on making my monthly music post on another deceased musician (Harakami Rei) – an old fan of my radio show had mentioned him, and it was as good an idea of any. But here we are.

There’s no way this would get written if I tried to give any sort of background on who Takahashi Yukihiro is. If you know, you know. I’m sure people have written multiple books on the subject. So instead, I’m just going to talk about some of my experiences with his music. And even then, I’m gonna limit it to three. For anyone unfamiliar with the history of Japanese electronic music and new wave, I think this should still serve as a helpful introduction into the Yellow Magic Orchestra Rabbit Hole. (Also my standard music blog Youtube link rot disclaimer – I’m going to try to also link to more stable resources, such as Discogs, when possible.)


My first introduction to Takahashi’s solo work is probably the same as many other people’s – his 1981 album Neuromantic. It’s one of the very few releases I own on vinyl, but not for any audiophile reasons. No, I paid for one thing and one thing only – the insert poster, which I promptly displayed next to my bed for a few years in college.

It certainly was a conversation starter.

I don’t know if looking back I would rank Neuromantic as the Number One Takahashi album, if only because I’m not really the type to numerically rank things. But it’s up there, for sure.

Wait, is that?

In the opposite direction chronologically, I also have strong memories of running into Takahashi’s collaborations with another one of my favorite electronic artists, Towa Tei.

I guess this maybe hits different now, as the kids say??

That they worked together wasn’t a big surprise – the degrees of separation between literally any electronic musician and a YMO member is probably less than six, and Towa Tei is another Titan of Techno (sorry, a habit of writing catchy copy). But that in the 2010’s Takahashi was still providing vocals on contemporary pop singles is truly a testament to the timeless…am I doing it again? I’m doing it again. Sorry. Anyways. This made the cut because it’s a useful example of why I make no attempt to cover his decades-long career. I don’t know who is technically the most prolific of the YMO three, but it’s just oceans of work.

Turning the Pages of Life

Last year I was randomly browsing the internet video site when I came across a Takahashi single I hadn’t heard of before, which led me to acquiring this compilation. Takahashi’s solo work post-Alfa years doesn’t quite do it for me, but not because it’s bad – he has been widely praised for having an excellent sense of Pop Sensibilities, and I’m one of those new wave weirdos with thick eyebrows.

Kidorikko‘s Ten Chiyumi
is a good example of
“Kelp aesthetic”

Below is a great example of later Takahashi pop that I am actually partial to.

If I was still doing my show, I would do a “Songs used in Shiseido commercials” feature

Many of the tracks here are on other albums, but again, if you’re new, that’s a good thing! Of course, there’s also no shortage of Takahashi compilations you can check out, but this one pretty nicely aligns with my personal recommendations. It’s currently one of the albums on my “Car CD”, which is a data CD full of mp3s I periodically burn to serve as my driving playlist.

Selected References

I suspect that there may be a few people reading this post that want, shall I say, the crate-digger’s perspective. You know. The deep cuts. But to be quite honest, I have no idea what even constitutes that anymore. On one side of the equation, there’s a shocking amount of Japanese releases readily available on The Big Streaming Platform many people use nowadays. On the other, I regularly run into people who know this one-off 80’s OVA soundtrack but not major idols from the same time. I get it – the internet knowledge machine operates in strange and mysterious ways, not to say anything of copyright and licensing issues.

To that end, I feel like the easiest thing for both me and my readers is to provide a shortlist of names that are helpful, along with the usual advice to search in both English and Japanese. I’ve already mentioned Towa Tei, so…

There’s plenty more names I could add to this list, but I’m going to cut it off here. Feel free to reach out to me on my socials (I’m trying to use my cohost more, if you’re on there) if you would like more specific recommendations.

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